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联合国为何在马来西亚创建数字金融中心

其他国际资讯

联合国为何在马来西亚创建数字金融中心

最近,我采访了联合国资本投资机构联合国资本开发基金(UNCDF)的几位代表,就他们在吉隆坡设立数字金融创新中心的决策展开了对话。

在这篇独家专访中,我采访了UNCDF区域技术专家Jaspreet Singh,希望更好地了解该机构在吉隆坡的使命、目标和未来计划。

请介绍一下UNCDF

UNCDF是联合国的一个机构,成立至今已超过50年。我们的具体使命就是推动普惠金融和当地发展金融,资本使命为尽可能开放公开和私有资源,以减少贫困并支持当地经济发展。

在普惠金融方面,我们主要关注中低收入群体和主流金融服务,希望提高个人和家庭的财务健康。为实现这一目标,UNCDF向数字金融的决策者、监管者、提供商、经销商和用户提供技术、金融和政策多方面的支持。

我们开始支持数字金融,因为我们担心最需要数字金融的国家/地区可能从中获益最少。

为什么选择在马来西亚建立数字金融创新中心?

我们希望在创建新解决方案时,能够以结构化方式进行测试,马来西亚的基础设施水平很高,能够满足我们的需求。

更重要的是,马来西亚的人口分布是一个完整全面的人口金字塔图,这里可提供的数据极为广泛,包括大型企业、蓬勃发展的中小企业、农场主、种植园工人和无银行账号的群体。城市、郊区和农村区域的人口混合使马来西亚非常适合作为测试新数字解决方案的平台。

目前只有8%左右的马来西亚人没有银行账户。马来西亚是否还需要采取更多普惠金融措施?

首先,普惠金融措施已经过时且并不充分。

量化一个国家金融普惠水平的方法主要是接触方面,即是否有银行账户。但是,普惠的完整概念应该是金融体系对个人或家庭的影响。因此,我们将更多因素纳入了考虑范围,包括金融体系的接触、使用、质量和福利。

个人的生活并不会只因为拥有一个银行账户就变好,他/她的金融生活需要的远不止一个银行账户。

马来西亚金融体系目前的供应端主要包含商业银行和非正式经济的其他组织,它们一直都是为主要企业账户和高端零售客户服务。

超过85%的马来西亚人有银行账户,其中77%有借记卡。但只有33%的借记卡持有人使用它来交易。也就是说只有四分之一不到的马来西亚人使用电子支付。马来西亚经济仍然以现金为主,这就意味着该国可以进一步扩展和加深金融发展。

这对私营企业有什么帮助?

我们正在为私营企业搭建商业案例。但是,我们面临的主要挑战之一就是私营企业更倾向于投资已知可以获利的市场,出于对未知风险的担忧,他们不太愿意投资M40(收入档次中间40%)和B40(家庭收入群体末尾40%)市场。

UNCDF是否计划进入初创企业生态体系?

UNCDF希望打造一个实践社区,目前我们的主张获得了马来西亚数字经济发展机构(MDEC)和国家银行的支持。

作为计划的一部分,UNCDF很快会在马来西亚发布一系列项目,为初创企业和其他相关利益方提供支持。我们将初创企业与市场上我们参与投资的推动机构相联系,以风险资本的形式(债务或赠款)为他们提供资源,用于维持他们的活动。

对于商业案例经过验证的初创企业,我们会促成他们与主流投资公司联系,帮助他们实现进一步发展。

您说的"打造一个实践社区"是指什么?

单凭一个研讨会并不能学到什么,只有亲身体验才能真正学到知识。我们打算推动全球指导和跨国加速项目。

UNCDF将在太平洋地区推动创新加速发展,这个大型市场包括斐济、巴布亚新几内亚、萨摩亚和其他亚洲国家/地区。部分国家/地区并没有初创企业生态体系,所以,我们打算在马来西亚举办一个创业大赛,吸引太平洋地区的人才前来参加,各自施展才华,创建解决方案。但是这个实践社区并不仅限于太平洋地区。

而且,这个知识流还可以反向作用,在马来西亚取得成功的也可以应用到这个地区的其他国家/地区。因此,构建一个实践社区并不是单一的参与措施。

UNCDF希望初创企业注意哪方面?

与能够轻易获得银行服务的人相比,无法获得银行服务的人要付出更多才能获得相同的服务。纵观金融服务的使用、质量和福利,要想普惠金融创造价值,首先就要降低贫困人口的金融成本和生活成本。

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the UN’s capital investment agency working in the least developed countries (LDCs), to talk about their decision to set up the Digital Finance Innovation Hub in Kuala Lumpur.

In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jaspreet Singh, regional technical specialist of UNCDF, to better understand the agency’s mandate, goals, and future plans in Kuala Lumpur.

Tell us about UNCDF

UNCDF is a part of the UN family, which is over 50 years old. We have a very specific mandate to work on financial inclusion and local development finance, along with a capital mandate that focuses on unlocking public and private resources to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

In financial inclusion, our focus is to work with low and moderate income communities and mainstream financial services so people and households can improve their financial health. To reach this goal, UNCDF provides a mix of technical, financial, and policy support to policymakers, regulators, providers, distributors, and users of digital finance.

We began supporting digital finance because we were concerned that the countries that needed it the most were succeeding the least.

Why did you choose Malaysia to build the Digital Finance Innovation Hub?

We were looking at new geographies where creating new solutions can be tested in a structured approach, and Malaysia has a very good level of infrastructure that enables that.

More importantly, Malaysia’s demographics gives us a full flavor of a population pyramid. The country possesses a wide database range where you can have large corporates, thriving SMEs, farmers, plantation workers, and some from the underbanked population in one pool. The diversity in the population mix of urban, suburban, and rural areas makes Malaysia an ideal platform to testbed new digital solutions.

Only about 8 percent of Malaysians are currently unbanked. Does Malaysia still need more financial inclusion efforts?

First of all, the measure of financial inclusion is dated and inadequate.

The methodology of quantifying a country’s inclusive finance has predominantly focused on access (i.e. having a bank account). However, the whole idea of inclusion should be the impact of the financial system on the individual or a household. Hence, we take a much broader approach by taking into account the access, usage, quality, and welfare of a financial system.

The wellbeing of the individual does not really improve by having just a bank account since his/her financial lifecycle needs to go beyond that.

When we look at the existing supply side of the financial system in Malaysia, which consists mainly of commercial banks and other actors of the informal economy, it has remained fixated on serving mainly business accounts and high-end retail customers.

Out of the 85 percent of Malaysians that have a bank account, about 77 percent of them have a debit card. But among the debit card holders, only 34 percent use it for transactions. This means less than one-fourth of the Malaysian population uses electronic payments. Malaysia is still largely a cash-based economy, which means there is scope for further financial deepening in this country.

How can this help the private sector?

We are building a business case for the private sector. However, one of the main challenges is that private sector players are inclined to go into segments that are known to be profitable; the unknowns are deterring them from venturing into the M40 (middle 40 percent income bracket) and B40 (bottom 40 percent household income group) markets.

Does UNCDF plan to tap into the startup ecosystem?

UNCDF wants to build a community of practice, and we already have MDEC and Bank Negara supporting our initiative.

As part of this engagement, UNCDF will soon launch a series of programs in Malaysia to support startups and other relevant stakeholders. We’ll connect startups with enablers in the markets we have a presence in, and we’ll provide resources for them to sustain their activities in the form of risk capital, which could come in the form of debt or grants.

For those that have a proven business case, we may connect them to mainstream investors who can take them further.

What do you mean by “building a community of practice?”

One workshop does not make you learn; true learning only happens when you experience it. We are talking about facilitating global mentorship and cross-country acceleration programs.

UNCDF will be hosting innovation accelerators across the Pacific region, a large market comprising Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and other countries in Asia. Some of these countries do not have a startup ecosystem, so we intend to open up a startup challenge in Malaysia and attract talent from all around the region to create solutions for them. But this community of practice is not limited to the Pacific.

Furthermore, this knowledge flow can also be reversed; what works in Malaysia can also be applied to other countries in the region. Therefore, by building a community of practice, it’s not a singular engagement effort.

What’s one piece of information UNCDF would emphasize to startups?

A person without access to banking services actually pays more for the same service as compared to someone who enjoys ease of access. When you extrapolate that across other spectrums of financial services—usage, quality, and welfare—an idea that drives financial inclusion creates value by driving down the cost of financing (and cost of living) for the less fortunate population.

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